By Amanada Wheatley
Shirley McLean made her Living Library debut with the Dryden Area Anti-Racism Network (DAARN) on Thursday September 15. McLean took part in the film Fire Song, which debuted in the festival circuit last year and is continuing to receive positive reviews.
McLean took the opportunity to open up to the community about her life and her experiences. From her childhood growing up in Manitoba to her recent celebrity status, McLean is opening herself to new opportunities.
McLean, an employee of RBC and a familiar face in the community, had never imagined acting as a career path. She had never taken any acting classes, let alone took part in a school play. When the directors of Fire Song came to Wabigoon to cast their movie a friend dragged her along for moral support.
At the audition, McLean watched her friend and her friend’s daughter go through their lines and prep to be called. When the line dwindled down and McLean was left sitting there the producers asked if she would like to audition. Deciding to take a chance, McLean went for it and ended up receiving a callback. Much to her surprise she was cast into a role that been adapted for her as the directors were so pleased with her audition.
The story of Fire Song is one that has resonated with McLean and others in the community. The movie follows an Aboriginal teen who is dealing with the loss of his sister through suicide. Themes of depression, drug abuse, sexuality, family, and personal struggle reinforce the film’s powerful message. McLean says these are the things people go through in real life and part of the reason why people connect so well with the film.
After wrapping up her first acting project, McLean has opened herself up to reconnecting with her Aboriginal culture. Part of her journey is to learn more about who she is and to get in touch with her roots. Her experience with Fire Song has opened her up to new experiences and the possibility of taking chances.
The Living Library is a speaking series hosted by the DAARN at the Dryden Library. The next Living Library will take place in October.